We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.

Winter Fresh Releases

Let’s be honest, 2012 was a down year for D.C. hip-hop. There were many decent local rap releases to choose from, but not many stellar ones. Oddisee’s People Hear What They See was certainly the best of the bunch, but he lives in New York now, so can we still call him “local?”

On Jan. 29, Oddisee’s Diamond District bandmate Uptown X.O. releases Colour de Grey, his first album on the Arizona-based Mello Music Group, which has slowly become a home for D.C.’s more intellectual hip-hop acts (yU and Substantial are also on the label). The album continues The Color Grey mixtape’s socially conscious themes; on it, X.O. raps about the city’s changing demographics and his creative evolution. There’s also a new Diamond District album in the pipeline and a collaborative project from The 1978ers (yU and his longtime collaborator/producer SlimKat).

Also this year, Forestville, Md., trio Gods’Illa will release its Believe in Gods’Illa album, the group’s first project since 2011’s exceptional CPR BlendTape. Wale affiliate Black Cobain will drop Young, Black and Gifted 2 in February and the business-minded SmCity will release Dream Cemetery in March.

Elsewhere, we should expect new albums from Low Budget members Kaimbr and Sean Born, and Lyriciss‘ long-awaited full-length, The Balance. Time will tell if 2013 will be better than 2012 for local hip-hop, but it seems that way on paper.—-Marcus J. Moore

F.A.M.E.’s Fast Words

F.A.M.E. burst on the indie scene with the Gabby Douglas-inspired record “UnEven Bars,” and followed with the upbeat, go-go infused, and BKS-produced record, “The First Step.” The singles whet pallets for his 2 Busy Dreamin’ mixtape. Though it had a mid-December release in 2012, it’s already being regarded as a top-tier tape for the DMV. At least on the barbershop-talk circuit. F.A.M.E. assures us big things are in store for his loyal supporters. Catch up and look forward by snagging the free tape.—-Dietrich Williams

Lights’ Show and Wale Parlay

Lightshow has loudly made his way up the ladder for local mainstays in the DMV. During the first quarter of 2012 Lightshow released his mixtape, Life Sentence; he then moved forward to crush the Adidas Cypher Smash and Howard’s legendary homecoming crowd in the fall. The momentum continued through as he was signed to Wale’s Board Administration imprint, and his snowball rolled with a massive performance on New Year’s Day at The Fillmore. Three days later he released “Nervous,” the Wale-assisted debut single; the as-of-yet-untitled mixtape arrives in the spring. He crushed the single, by the way.—-DW

G-Two Step

G-Two was last heard ‘round these parts with praise for his 2012 mixtape, Trillmatic. The thing drew major comparisons to mainstream artist such as Big K.R.I.T. and J. Cole with its blue collar southern flair. I think G-Two has his own sound—more gritty than the aforementioned names. Expanding the tape’s reach, he just dropped a video for the single “On the Way,” and performed in New York City this week with Curren$y. Serious splashes.—-DW

This Week in Folarin’ Around

Look, Wale, I just wanted to take a quick second to let you know how much I love your latest tape. Folarin dropped on Christmas Eve and I completely ignored it because your multitude of recent complaints about the industry—coupled with that nauseating spoken-word puzzle about diced pineapples as vaginas—had morphed into an indecipherable stream of rants against haters that seemed to only serve as exonerating evidence for why the major-label debut was so wack. Scattered subsequent mp3s played like the empty boasts of a raggedy conquistador on a sinking vessel. It’s an attitude that wasn’t meshing with my holiday cheer. I would have been caught sleeping entirely had Marcus not put me on game, and it’s because of his MTV Hive essay that I understand the context of the fuming negativity and defensive nature of your recent work.

Kudos on balancing the guest list with plenty of locals—Fatz kills it on “Let A N*gga Know”—while working Rick Ross’ rolodex like the sharpest of administrative assistants (French Montana, Nipsey Hussle, Chrissette Michelle, Rozay himself, the prophet 2Chainz). Scarface rapping over an expertly minimalist, hard-knocking, and sample-based Jake One beat is something I could listen to for 40 minutes.

I even like “H20,” the song aimed at Instagram trolls. It’s about a familiar theme you’ve rapped to death about—Internet haters—but is, surprisingly, more funny than mean.

Now that you’ve found an inner editor, the soul-heavy drops and condensed passages about flyness and effortless swerve leave the Beats crew stoked about future projects. We also appreciate the revitalized regional bombast—as Marcus wrote, “He’s discussing topics that hold weight, like his public school upbringing and the gritty side of D.C.” Given your role in mediating local beef and building the Board as more than a vanity project that serves as brand extension, it’s an appropriately mature and forward road to ride.

It’s as if you saw the swell of talent on your side, and decided to hoop Shy Glizzy on the court one more time like a swinging dad with fading knees—-Ramon Ramirez